Reading today’s reflection, I particularly engaged with the theme of being on God’s timing. That’s something that has been significant in my journey, and a theme I keep coming back to.
But what most struck me was the idea that sometimes where we are liturgically and where we are personally don’t match up. Sometimes emotionally we’re still in Lent when the church calendar tells us we should be in Easter. Sometimes we feel joyful on a fast day or morose on a feast day. Oh, so true!
And it got me thinking about an added dimension for me. I’m always, and particularly at Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter, working on at least two liturgical calendars – the church and school (or sometimes several different ones for schools with different term dates!). There was a particularly bad instance of this during Holy Week this year when our wonderful C of E school marked Easter, with great rejoicing, on the last day of term. Which happened to be Maundy Thursday. And so I found myself bouncing from the Last Supper to the Resurrection and back like some sort of liturgical yo-yo, as I dashed between school and church. Emotionally draining, and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it did give me a new perspective. Because actually, when it comes to death and resurrection, it’s not about either/or, it’s about both/and. Sorrow and joy. Mourning and celebration. Kyrie and alleluia.
This Advent looks like it’ll be another liturgically muddled season for me. In church-based children’s activities I’ll be keeping advent. And in my own heart I’ll be trying to. But I’ll also be welcoming schools into church, several per week between now and the end of term, to celebrate Christmas. And to do that properly, I have to be celebrating too. Keeping Advent and celebrating Christmas. Waiting for Christ to come and proclaiming that he is here. Penitence and party.
And that’s how it is, it seems to me. That tension. Because God’s time is not linear. It’s not then and now. It’s a both/and sort of time. A time to weep and a time to laugh. Light and dark. Death and resurrection. Waiting and celebrating. Not a conflict to be resolved, but a tension to be held and examined and lived in.
So as I set out on my Advent journey (or should that be “school carol service marathon”?) I pray that I will be able to find and inhabit God’s time in this season.